Abner Mares has been a popular choice as the next possible opponent of Nonito Donaire after Jorge Arce because of his unblemished record and his domination of the bantamweight division in recent years.
But after his not-so-impressive performance over veteran Anselmo Moreno of Panama at the Staples Center Saturday night, boxing fans are doubting his ability to withstand Donaire's awesome power and speed.
Mares gave all his best to knock out Moreno during the 12-round encounter at the well-attended boxing event. But he looked worn out and frustrated in the later rounds as he chased the hit-and-run fighter from Panama. Mares even looked almost like an amateur, throwing awkward punches which did not land on targets.
Although he scored a knockdown over Moreno in the fifth round, his overall performance leaves much to be desired.
Donaire is definitely more skillful than Mares, especially if his last fight against Moreno will be used as a basis in considering him as a worthy opponent of Donaire.
Mares told Boxing Scene after the fight he wants to face Donaire and hopes their promoters can work together to make the fight happen, saying, “I want to fight Nonito Donaire. That’s the only guy to fight. We want to fight the best. We want to continue to step up and fight the best. I think its up to Nonito’s promoters.”
Ronnie Nathanielsz of Philboxing writes, "Therein lies the problem because Mares is handled by Golden Boy Promotions and Donaire by Bob Arum’s Top Rank and their differences run deep".
Despite the win by Mares against Moreno, fight fans would probably favor a Guillermo Rigondeaux-Nonito Donaire fight after the "Filipino Flash" is done with Arce in December.
Rigondeaux, who had an impressive amateur record, is unbeaten in his 11 professional fights, eight of which were won via KO.
The former Cuban Olympic gold medalist in the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympic games, is facing Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym of Thailand on Dec. 15. The Thai fighter is a veteran of 44 fights with two loses.
Mares needs to polish his skill and style against a tough fighter in the bantamweight division to have a fighting chance with Donaire, who will be available after the Rigondeaux fight (if it happens) early next year.